If what you're looking for is a visual way to understand it, while a geometric interpretation might be useful, the most intuitive way to understand $e^x$ for me was stuff like population dynamics.
If you've ever heard the phrase "exponential growth" in relation to a population of something (bacteria, fish, wildlife, etc), it refers to the idea that each change in the population is linearly proportional to the population at the last time step -- assuming no outside influences in any way hinder or alter the population dynamics.
It stems from what I think is probably the simplest non-trivial ordinary differential equation there is:
$y'(t) = y(t)$
That is, there exists some function $y(t)$ such that $y(t)$ is the same function as its first derivative (up to a constant). The only function satisfying this criteria is $e^x$.
The implication may not be immediately obvious, so I hope you'll forgive the example.
If a population of fish is accurately described by $y$, then the larger my fish population is the faster the population will grow -- exponentially so. At each iteration, assuming a fixed average spawn-rate-per-fish, then the new fish added to the population will be a percentage of the size of the current population, and since the population grows every round then the increase and the population both grow at about the same pace.
This is true of financial investments as well that are strictly based on a fixed interest rate.
Of course, these are simplistic models. Fish populations don't really grow exponentially and financial investments don't really produce exponential growth.